April 4, 2006

National Center for Home Education—Legislative Briefing Report

The National Center for Home Education's 2006 Legislative Summit reached one of its high points on Thursday morning, March 30. Four Senators and eight Representatives spoke to our group of 75 homeschool leaders. As often happens with these types of events, Representative Mark Souder attended but was called away to vote before he could make his address.

Speakers included:

Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist
Senator Larry Craig
Senator Sam Brownback
Senator Tom Coburn

Representative Joe Pitts
Representative Mike Pence
Representative Roscoe Bartlett
Representative Mark Green
Representative Marilyn Musgrave
Representative Bobby Jindal
Representative Mike Sodrel
Representative Geoff Davis

Representative Mark Souder—attended.

HSLDA thanks all the Senators and Representatives who took the time to give their perspective on the importance of the homeschooling movement and the trends in society today. Hearing from our elected leaders, firsthand, and unfiltered, gave a much clearer view of the types of people we want to see in Washington.

Below we have included statements from some of the Senators and Representatives who spoke at the event:

    "Homeschooled children deserve the same treatment as their public and private school peers, and the Home School Legal Defense Association is an outstanding advocate for homeschool families across America. Parents and families should have the freedom and the choice to educate their children as they see fit and the HSLDA does outstanding work in helping make America a better place to raise our children."
    —Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
    "I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the work of the Home School Legal Defense Association. Currently in America, we see the erosion of the family unit, increasing amounts of violence in video games and television shows, and a general lack of concern for the sanctity of human life. Pro-family groups like HSLDA are pivotal in setting America on the right track. While HSLDA continues its important work, we should remember that a society can remain healthy only when every human life is treated with the respect and dignity it deserves."
    —Senator Sam Brownback
    "It is clear that many federal laws target homeschooled students unfairly compared to public and privately educated students. Because of this, I am proud to sponsor the Home School Non-Discrimination Act (HONDA). This bill will remove many of the harmful blockades that face our nation's homeschooled students. While Congress has already addressed certain provisions of this HONDA, including military recruitment of homeschoolers and eligibility for the Robert C. Byrd honors scholarship program, I will continue to work to ensure that homeschoolers are no longer treated unfairly by the federal government because of their chosen method of education."
    —Senator Larry Craig
    "The option of homeschooling must always be available to parents. We must not only protect the freedom of parents to home-educate their children, we must always recognize the fact that parents are to be the primary educators of their children. Parents who make the sacrifice to school their children full-time, at home, are to be commended for their dedication and faithfulness."
    —Congressman Mike Pence
    "It's always a pleasure for me to visit with homeschoolers from around the country and to meet with the Home School Legal Defense Association. My wife Pat and I have homeschooled our children for many years, and we are particularly appreciative of your efforts to teach children how to be productive citizens and about what good citizenship means. Your involvement in the political process is essential, and you have done a wonderful job advocating for the issues we all care about."
    —Congressman Geoff Davis
    "Homeschooling parents make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of their children. They should be commended for their extraordinary commitment, and for the contribution they make to society by sending out graduates who are good citizens with a strong work ethic. In Congress, we need to ensure that homeschoolers aren't discriminated against, and we have to protect them from government intrusion. Homeschooled kids are likely to be the backbone of conservative, freedom-living Americans of the future."
    —Congressman Mark Souder
    "You will search the Constitution in vain to find any reference to the federal government having any responsibility concerning education. As a scientist, I am trained to be skeptical about interpreting cause and effect relationships from correlations. However, the correlation between declines in the educational performance of American children since the establishment of the Department of Education is striking. I would be far more worried about the future of my country if it weren't for HSLDA and the invaluable assistance it provides to the heroic parents who take personal responsibility for the education of their children through homeschooling."
    —Congressman Roscoe Bartlett
    "It's a parent's right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. That's why I introduced the Supportive Communities Helping Offer Opportunities for Learning (SCHOOL) Act. This legislation offers tax credits to individuals and businesses that donate to scholarship organizations—organizations that, in turn, can provide new resources and opportunities for homeschooled children to further their education. The SCHOOL Act is about one thing - making sure all children have access to the best education possible, and I'm hopeful that we can soon make it a reality."
    —Congressman Mark Green